Mon­tero takes 1-hit­ter into 9th

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - By Joe Kay

CINCINNATI » When the Mets sent Rafael Mon­tero to the mi­nors at mid­sea­son, the mes­sage was blunt: Throw strikes or you won’t be back. This time, it sunk in.

Mon­tero gave the best per­for­mance of his up-and­down ca­reer Wed­nes­day night, tak­ing a one-hit­ter into the ninth in­ning. New York held on for a 2-0 vic­tory that ex­tended its dom­i­nance over the Cincinnati Reds.

“He’s learn­ing one thing right now: His stuff in the strike zone can get outs,” man­ager Terry Collins said. “He pitched bril­liantly.”

Mon­tero (3-9) al­lowed only Joey Votto’s dou­ble through the first eight in­nings. Collins de­cided to let him try for the shutout — he’d never gone more than 7 1/3 in­nings — and the Reds loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on two hits and an in­ten­tional walk to Votto.

A.J. Ramos fanned Adam Du­vall and Scooter Gen­nett for his 26th save in 28 chances.

The 26-year-old Mon­tero re­al­ized when he was de­moted that it was time to start trust­ing his pitches and throw­ing them over the in­side part of the plate. It’s been work­ing.

“I think I’ve re­gained the con­fi­dence I had in the mi­nor leagues,” he said through a trans­la­tor. “That con­fi­dence is def­i­nitely back.”

It shows in his re­sults. Mon­tero has gone at least five in­nings and al­lowed no more than three runs in each of his last four starts, the best such stretch of his ca­reer.

Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki dou­bled in the first in­ning for a 2-0 lead against Homer Bai­ley (4-7), set­ting up the Mets’ 12th vic­tory in their last 15 games at Great Amer­i­can Ball Park.

The Mets had won 14 straight against the Reds over­all since 2014, a streak snapped by Cincinnati’s 14-4 win Tues­day night.

The Mets will wrap up the se­ries on Thurs­day af­ter­noon and fly to Hous­ton, which is re­cov­er­ing from the mas­sive flood­ing caused by Har­vey. After an un­sched­uled day off on Fri­day, they will play a dou­ble­header Satur­day.

Bai­ley started on seven days’ rest be­cause of a shoul­der ir­ri­ta­tion that lim­ited him to three in­nings in his last game. Bai­ley gave up four hits and one walk in six in­nings.

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